Port Authority vice chairman makes funding proposal

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

The vice chairman of the Leavenworth County Port Authority is proposing the county government provide $240,538 in funding for a sewer extension project in Lansing.

Vice Chairman Dan Gutshall has asked his fellow Port Authority board members to join him in making a formal recommendation to county commissioners.

He discussed the issue with the Port Authority’s Board of Directors last week, but the matter was tabled until a meeting next month.

The Port Authority is a quasi-governmental organization. The Port Authority’s board members are appointed by Leavenworth County and local city governments.

Last year, the Port Authority board was asked by county commissioners to make a recommendation for how $1.7 million could be used for economic development.

The County Commission previously provided the city of Tonganoxie with $5 million in funding for development of the Tonganoxie Business Park.

Following development work within the business park site, $1.7 million remained from the $5 million that had been provided by the county.

Tonganoxie returned the remaining funds to the county. And county commissioners asked the Port Authority for recommendations on how the money could be used.

Port Authority board members recommended last year that $1.2 million of the $1.7 million be used to extend sewer service to the Tonganoxie Business Park and upgrade water service to the site. County commissioners approved this recommendation.

This left $540,538 of the $1.7 million still unspent.

Gutshall is suggesting $240,538 of the remaining funds be used to offset design costs associated with an East McIntyre Road sewer extension project in Lansing.

It is estimated the design work for the project will total $560,000.

Gutshall said the project would extend sewer service to an area of 1,274 acres, or 1.99 square miles, for potential commercial, residential or industrial development.

Any recommendation from the Port Authority regarding the use of the funds would have to be approved by the County Commission.

Port Authority Chairman Greg Kaaz said he wanted to review the future land use plan for the area.

He said the Port Authority has focused on industrial development in the past. But the project in Lansing may be used for other types of development including residential.

He said the Port Authority could be setting a precedent.

Port Authority Treasurer Chris Donnelly suggested other cities may ask in the future for financial assistance for general infrastructure projects not necessarily related to industrial development.

He said Port Authority members need to determine how they will address this.

Gutshall said the leftover funding from the Tonganoxie Business Park was intended for economic development not necessarily industrial development.

“I think we need to keep the focus on economic development and not necessarily industrial economic development,” he said.

He said the Lansing project qualifies as economic development.

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